Hakkasan – Not Your Average Cantonese Restaurant

Executive Chef Ho Chee Boon and General Manager Jordan Ogron

Executive Chef Ho Chee Boon and General Manager Jordan Ogron

Cantonese cuisine was the first regional Chinese food to come to America. Over the years, it has developed a reputation of being bland or overly sweet. Hakkasan, on Beverly Drive, has reintroduced Cantonese dining with an intriguing club-like atmosphere and big, bold flavors.

The first thing diners will notice when walking into the restaurant is the air perfumed with incense. A beautiful stonewall entrance leads to dimly blue-lit dining rooms. Techno music is pulsating, and low hanging lights illuminate the tables.

The original Hakkasan restaurant was founded in London in 2001. Since then, Hakkasan has become a distinguished global restaurant with locations in Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Shanghai, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills.
We sat near the lounge area created by general manager Jordan Ogron, who came to Hakkasan after working at Rivera, Fig & Olive, Short Order and Bestia. He supervised interior improvements and worked closely with the chefs to create new seafood dishes exclusively served in Hakkasan’s Beverly Hills restaurant.

Hakkasan’s international executive chef Ho Chee Boon, a Michelin-starred chef with more than 24 years of experience, was at the restaurantIMG_2822 the night we dined. The chef’s Cantonese menu offers contemporary and exotic dishes that are steamed and wok-fried.

We ordered innovative cocktails including a popular Buddha’s Palm made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Velvet Falernum, yuzu marmalade and juice, white balsamic vinegar, black grapes and mint. I chose a frothy strawberry-ginger bellini made with Prosecco and served in a glass that was shorter and narrower than a typical champagne flute. Other guests at our table ordered drinks like Eastern Elixir, Dark & Stormy and smoky Negroni, made with Rusty Blade aged gin, Antica Formula vermouth, Campari and Grand Marnier. A lid on the glass is lifted at the table, releasing a dramatic smoky vapor that rises from an extra large ice cube.

Our server, Beau, was charming and professional in delivering our multi-course dinner. The first course was pan-seared mango scallops, with four scallops served in a fresh mango sauce with Asian pear and Thai sweet chili sauce. It’s garnished with purple radish, and was more of a sweet than spicy dish.

It was suggested that I try the crispy duck salad, one of the most popular dishes on the menu, stacked high with crispy duck meat, bright red pomegranate seeds, flash fried pine nuts, lettuce and shallots — a bowl of crunchy, chewy and silky delectable delights. The dish is addictively good.


Truffle lupin wrap

Next, the royal lobster soup arrived with lobster meat still in its flavorful shell, and lots of long and thin smoked enoki mushrooms. The chef splashes Bourbon on the soup to round out the flavors.

I really enjoyed the truffle lupin wrap, made with a gluten free flour high in protein and rich in dietary fiber and minerals. The dish was wrapped with legumes, carrots and Japanese yams and drizzled with black housemade hoisin sauce. Black truffle shavings on top enhance the savoriness.
Chef Ho’s team also makes stir fried squid served with a mix of cloud ear fungus, onion, carrots, scallion, bird’s-eye chilies and cashew nuts. The pleasing dish appealed to everyone at the table.
The braised royal abalone looked like a large mushroom cap with white lace mushrooms.

Abalone is the escargot of the sea, and the smooth delicacy paired well with snow ear and cloud ear mushrooms, baby bok choy and royal supreme stock made with chicken, duck, dried scallop, ginger, carrot and chicken feet.

Another appetizing wok-fried vegetarian dish was exotic Chinese mushrooms with yam bean, sugar snap peas and macadamia nuts. I really enjoyed the delicate lily bulb mushrooms and cloud ear fungus.IMG_2849

The most dramatic dishes in appearance were stir-fried Brazilian lobster with Chinese chive sauce, and wok-fried lamb chop with preserved bean curd and ginger. The Mongolian-style beef tenderloin was very tender and flavorful. The dish, was served in a lovely butter-colored custard basket. The beef is wok-fried with a sweet sauce, milk, maitake mushrooms and crispy ginger with an edible flower.

We also enjoyed abalone fried rice cooked in abalone stock with fresh abalone, chopped prawns and dried scallops. We finished with tapioca-style banana pearl pudding.

DJ Aaron Colbert offers entertainment on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings starting at 7 p.m. Rotating DJs spin music every Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.

Hours are from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; the bar and lounge is open from 5:30 p.m. to closing. The restaurant is closed Sunday and Monday. $$$ 233 N. Beverly Dr. (310)888-8661.

Afternoon Tea for Two at the Parq Bar

When a friend invites me to afternoon “high tea,” I always accept, especially when it’s at the Montage, Beverly Hills. After a hectic week, it’s always rejuvenating to unwind and take time to pause, sip some elegant tea, nibble on finger IMG_0828sandwiches, and enjoy clotted cream and fruity preserves on freshly baked scones.

Scones, tea sandwiches, biscuits, macaroons and sweet desserts are beautifully layered on a tiered tray for high tea at Parq Montage. (photo by Jill Weinlein)

Tea is known for its therapeutic antioxidants, and without sugar or cream, it’s calorie free. Tea has less caffeine than coffee and may reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The tea room at the Parq Bar has comfortable chairs around square and circular tables elegantly set with porcelain teacups and saucers designed by artist Lissi Kaplan. Her inspiration is Beverly Hills during spring, with hand painted wild tulips, lovely lupins, delicate fiddlenecks and forget-me-nots, with a menu designed by Kaplan on the cover.

We ordered the Traditional Tea with six finger sandwiches, two scones — buttermilk and cranberry orange — andIMG_0825 four pastries that included a dulce de leche chocolate tart decorated with edible gold. Trays with lemon curd, raspberry jam and vanilla Devonshire cream accompanied the three-tiered serving set.

We enjoyed artisanal coconut and ginger-flavored tea and a Montage Exclusive blend of organic golden pomegranate tea with rooibos, rosehips, orange peel and lemon myrtle.

Guests can choose from green, white, herbal, oolong, rooibos, tisane and black teas by LAMILL to sip while enjoying sandwiches made with egg salad, chicken salad on rye bread, smoked salmon on zucchini muffins, roasted beef with candied shallot-date marmalade on cheddar cheese biscuits, and English cucumber on dark pumpernickel.

Tea is poured from porcelain tea pots designed by artist Lissi Kaplan featuring spring flowers. (photo by Jill Weinlein)
Guests can opt for sipping champagne enhanced with pomegranate, and a kir royale included with the Royal Tea order. The Parq Bar also offers a young adults tea with Nutella, peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese sandwiches, and assorted pastries. Champagne “mocktails” are served for an opulent experience.

An afternoon tea in Beverly Hills is a unique and unforgettable indulgence, perfect to enjoy with friends, family and business colleagues. The Parq afternoon tea service is available from noon to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. $$ 225 N. Canon Drive. (310)499-4199.

This article was published in the April 2015 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

10 Great Easter Brunch and Dinner Festivities in Los Angeles

Terranea--300x200This Sunday is Easter. A great way to celebrate this holiday is to hop over to one of these 10 dining destinations and enjoy the festivities.

1. Spring into the Terranea

Celebrate Easter Sunday with family-friendly activities and brunch options at Terranea Resort. The Easter “Eggstravaganza Egg Hunt” will be held on the Palos Verdes Meadow and features an Easter wonderland with eggs and prizes for children. Complimentary access to all Easter activities, including the Egg Hunt, will be provided to diners and resort guests.

Family-friendly activities include the Pointe Discovery underwater egg hunt and rubber duck races, a petting zoo with bunnies, baby chicks and sheep, and a family activities station with crafts and Easter card and egg decorating.

Guests dining in the Palos Verdes Ballroom will enjoy multiple cooking stations, including an omelette and egg station, specialty cinnamon roll and waffle station, an Asian-inspired kitchen, a sauté kitchen, seafood table and dessert section.

The Easter Ballroom brunch will also include a buffet for children ages 5 to 10. Brunch is available from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is $90 for adults, including gratuity and champagne; $45 for children.

Mar’sel, Terranea Resort’s signature dining destination, will also serve an Easter brunch with an appetizer, breakfast, lunch and dessert options.

At the resort’s Catalina Kitchen, guests can enjoy a brunch buffet with an ocean view. A farmers’ market fruit cart, crepe station, candy station, and waffle and dessert bar will also be available.

The resort’s restaurants Nelson’s and Bashi will offer Easter Sunday specials, as well as their regular menus. Reservations are required for Easter Brunch. 100 Terranea Way. (310)265-2836.

2. Seasonal Spring Easter Brunch Specials at Cecconi’s29437-2

Cecconi’s offers an a la carte brunch menu, and Spring-inspired Easter specials like stuffed zucchini blossoms, poached eggs with white asparagus and truffles, and wood-fired pizza with green asparagus and stracchino.

Diners gathering for brunch or dinner can enjoy pappardelle with lamb ragu and artichokes. Brunch Specials: Stuffed zucchini blossoms with ricotta and parmesan ($10); Poached eggs with white asparagus and truffle ($14); Wood-fired pizza with green asparagus and stracchino ($18). All Day Special: Pappardelle with lamb ragu and artichokes ($24.)

8764 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90069 http://www.cecconiswesthollywood.com – (310) 432-2000. Click here on OpenTable for reservations.

3. Easter Brunch Redefined at Culina, Modern Italian1699

Four Seasons Executive Chef Cyrille Pannier and Pastry Chef Federico Fernandez give the time-honored tradition of Easter Brunch new meaning with a holiday-inspired spin on the restaurant’s famed Sunday Brunch buffet.

Diners can indulge in an extensive array of offerings that include freshly prepared eggs made to-order from a selection of organic hen, duck, goose and quail eggs; carving board savories like Honey Glazed Easter Ham, Roasted Prime Rib, and Leg of Lamb; a selection of Santa Monica Farmers Market produce in various Market Salads; Shrimp and Tequila Ceviche; fried Dim Sum; fresh seafood including Alaskan Crab Claws, Seared Tuna and Cambridge House Smoked Salmon; and entrees like Muscovy Duck Leg Confit and Braised Beef Short Ribs.

A Children’s Buffet with everything from Mini Cheese Burgers to Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwiches will also be available. Sweet teeth can cap off their experience with Pastry Chef Federico’s “Chocolate and Candy’s Factory” featuring a spread of Easter chocolate delights.

The cost is $98 for adults, $49.00 for children ages 5-12, and free for children under 4. http://www.culinarestaurant.com -300 South Doheny Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Click on OpenTable for a reservation.

securedownload-154. Easter Porchetta Dinner at Blue Plate Oysterette

Chef Paolo Bendez’u will be showcasing his culinary versatility with a Porchetta dinner special at Blue Plate Oysterette, complete with a Spring farmers market vegetable au gratin and lemon citronette.The Menu Specials include Porchetta with Spring Farmers Market Vegetable Au Gratin & Lemon Citronette for $23.

Blue Plate Oysterette – West Hollywood -8048 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048 http://www.blueplatesantamonica.com/bpo/los-angeles – (323) 656-5474. Click here for reservations OpenTable 

5. Meet the Easter Bunny at Montage Beverly Hills

Diners can celebrate Easter at a Sunday brunch at the Montagesecuredownload-16 Beverly Hills’ Scarpetta and The Rooftop Grill. Guests will begin with a seafood buffet and imported and domestic cheeses and charcuterie.

Entrées include eggs Benedict and ricotta pancakes, slow roasted rib eye of beef and whole roasted striped bass. Scarpetta will also offer spaghetti with tomato and basil, and housemade lasagna. A medley of desserts are also available.

Brunch is priced at $108 for adults; $35 for children ages 6 to12. Bottomless mimosas, bellinis and bloody Marys are available for an additional $22 per person.

Young guests can also enjoy a visit with the Easter Bunny, Paintbox activities, spring crafts, Easter bag and cookie decorating, face painting, balloons and the annual “Golden Easter Egg Hunt”. The Easter Bunny will fill eggs with sweet treats, hotel stays, spa discounts and other surprises. Guests may choose from a morning hunt at 11 a.m. or an afternoon hunt at 2 p.m.

225 N. Canon Dr. (310)860-7970. Reserve on OpenTable

6. Easter Brunch at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village


Families can bring their children to an egg hunt with the Easter Bunny, and enjoy a decadent brunch on Sunday, April 5 at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village.

Guests can start with the raw bar and sushi, and then head to the carving station. Signature brunch dishes and a dessert bar will be available.

A complimentary egg hunt will be held at 10:15 a.m. on the Waterfall Lawn. Treat-filled eggs will be hidden with surprises. Complimentary coffee and hot chocolate will also be offered on Easter morning.

“Staycation” specials are available through Sunday, April 12, starting at $269 per night. 2 Dole Drive. (818)575-3000. Click here on OpenTable. 11170

7. Easter Bunny Hops to InterContinental

Visit with the Easter Bunny while enjoying an Easter brunch at the Park Grill on Sunday, April 5. Guests over 21 will receive a complimentary cocktail upon arrival, and bottomless mimosas are available for $15.

Children will enjoy live music and treats, a visit by the Easter bunny and a special surprise. Signature breakfast selections include fresh pastries, smoked salmon with traditional accompaniments, seasonal fruit, French toast bread pudding, short rib hash, an egg station, seafood bar, lobster truffle mac and cheese, grilled steak, lamb ribs and ethnic cuisine options.

The cost is $73 for adults; $35 for children. 2151 Avenue of the Stars. (310)284-6536. Click on OpenTable.

8. Church & State19081

Located in the heart of the Arts District in Downtown LA, this French restaurant will be featuring an Easter-esque “Church on Sunday” dinner menu created by Executive Chef Tony Esnault.

Menu highlights include frisée salad with poached egg and bacon lardons, navarin d’agneau primeur (lamb and spring vegetables), and a decadent trifle. Dinner is available from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., reservations are recommended 213-405-1434 or click on OpenTable.  93433

9. Salt’s Cure

Located in West Hollywood, Easter they will offer brunch and dinner with locally sourced menu items curated by Chef/co-owners Chris Phelps and Zak Walters. Brunch is available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with dinner service from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., reservations are available for dinner only. 7494 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, (323) 850-7258. Click on OpenTable.

10. The Beverly Hilton’s CIRCA 55

The Easter menu at CIRCA 55 includes a traditional holiday brunch buffet with a sushi and seafood bar, salads, antipasti, breakfast items, a carving station, entrées, pastas, soups, fruit/cheese and desserts. Adults can create a bubbly cocktail from a bellini cart. The buffet runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is available for $79 for adults and $29 for children. Guests can start with chef Thomas Henzi’s breakfast pastries and finish with desserts such as cheesecake, macaroons, mini cupcakes and warm bread pudding.

9876 Wilshire Blvd. (310)887-6055. Click on OpenTable.

Baja California Sur – Rancho Pescadero

IMG_1469_2Lisa Harper left her corporate life as a CEO of children’s apparel company, Gymboree, in Northern California to live a simpler life in Baja California. She purchased 15 beachfront acres and camped. During the day, she took long walks along the sand, played in the surf and explored neighboring towns. In the evening, she was “wow’d” by the constellations.

Eventually she built 12 luxurious suites and a pool to open a boutique ocean view resort. Word got out that her Rancho Pescadero was a “little slice of paradise,” and her resort filled up with Californians, Canadians and East Coast couples and retiree’s longing for warm weather and views of the Pacific Ocean.

She decided to build 16 more luxury units to keep up with the demand of guests. Now her resort offers 28 unique guest rooms, twoIMG_1493 pools, a bar, yoga studio and gourmet restaurant. Everywhere you walk, you’ll find beauty and hear the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore.

Rancho Pescadero is an ideal location for exploring Baja California Sur. It’s about 90 minutes from Cabo San Lucas and about one hour to La Paz. The closest town is the charming, artist colony/surfer town of Todos Santos.

Guests can either rent a car at the airport or take a shuttle to the property for about $200 for up to six passengers. Turn off the smooth Highway 19 onto a dirt road leading towards the Pacific Ocean and you have reached an ideal vacation destination.

Sitting in the raised hot tub overlooking the stunning pool and bar area of the elegant boutique resort, Rancho Pescadero guests congregate in the hot, bubbly water. Many are here to take a yoga class or sit in one of the “floating” chaise lounges in the pool with a cool hibiscus margarita.

IMG_1477_2No party animals allowed here. Guest must be over the age of 18, with the majority ranging in their mid-40s to 70s.
Staying in the spacious room #14 for one night, the designer kitchen was prettier than most homes. There was a grand living and dining room that could have entertained all the guests at the resort.

Most of the suites have king-size beds, with mosquito netting creating a romantic vibe. The bathrooms have huge concrete soaking tubes and an open shower with his-and-her shower heads. Out on the palapa-covered patio are two comfy lounge chairs, a day bed and dining room table for eating al fresco. Best of all, there are no televisions or telephones.

Guests receive a complimentary welcome margarita by the friendly bartenders. Many guests don bathing suits and swim before IMG_1456_2sunset and then take a walk on the beach to collect shells and admire the driftwood, while the sun sets into the Pacific.

The resort’s open-air Garden Restaurant is built near the organic garden. Many of the ingredients on the modern Mexican menu are harvested from here.

The selective wine menu offers glasses and bottles of wonderful Mexican white, red and rosé wines.
In the evening, guests point out the Big and Little Dipper, Orion’s Belt and shooting stars, while sitting near the roaring fire-pit.

By 9 p.m. the on-site Garden restaurant closes, and at 9:30 p.m. the bar by the pool shuts down. Guests retreat to their suites for a long siesta.

In the morning, staff members deliver baskets filled with fresh fruit, sprinkled rolls and coffee to the front door of each suite. Later, the patio near the lobby offers healthy breakfast plates that include eggs and roasted vegetables on curry toast.

DSC_0569By 9:45 a.m. guests walk over to the yoga pavilion to participate in the daily, complimentary yoga class that starts at 10 a.m. Others grab a board to surf some waves.

Before check-out, couples take one last dip in the pool, before driving back to the airport. The resort provides magazines, sun hats and a variety of sunscreens at the poolside bar.

Rancho Pescadero is a luxury, chic vacation destination that leaves guests with a new appreciation of Baja California Sur.
To reserve a room call (910)300-8891 or log onto http://www.ranchopescadero.com

This article was featured in the April 2015 issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

Santa Barbara’s Foodie Hot Spot – The Lark

IMG_2607Last time we visited Santa Barbara we had a longer list of restaurants to experience, than days. It is becoming a wonderful field-to-table dining destination. One “foodie” spot that we regretted not having time for was The Lark.

Last weekend we had another opportunity to drive up to Santa Barbara for the weekend. We put dinner at The Lark at the top of our activity list.

Located in the thriving Funk Zone and within walking distance from the Santa Barbara train depot, the restaurant is named for the sleek overnight Pullman train of the Southern Pacific Railroad that serviced Santa Barbara from 1910 -1968.

Architect Clay Aurell of AB Design Studio designed the 130 seat full-service restaurant attached to the Lucky Penny wood-fired pizza restaurant.

We made a 5 p.m. reservation on a Saturday night, because we had a 6:15 p.m. event at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Parking along Anacapa near the various wine tasting rooms, we remarked how lively the street was with residents and visitors shopping in the art and crafts stores, sipping wine and meeting friends and family. It has become a big social hub.

Waiting in line to be seated at on the patio, two parties in front of us asked to be seated at the popular communal table inside. We sat near the kitchen window and peeked in to see if Executive Chef Jason Planks was there creating signature dishes.Originally from Texas he was the Sous Chef at Michael Mina’s RN74 in San Francisco.IMG_2614

The comprehensive wine list highlights small Santa Barbara County producers and artisan winemakers from afar. Wines start from $9 for a Rose’ of Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County to $18 Red Pinot Noir from JCR, Estate. The average price per glass is $12.

A dish of spicy dusted popcorn was delivered to our table. It didn’t “wow” me.

We started our gastronomical experience with a half size cheese board with a delicious Brie, Point Reyes bleu, and Humboldt fog, pear walnut preserve, cranberry mostarda, stone fruit  membrillo and crisp crostini. I asked for some soft bread too. Next, we enjoyed Chef Paluska’s crispy Brussels sprouts doused with fish sauce, chopped dates, sesame seeds, Serrano chilies and a squeeze of lime. Since he is from Texas, he loves enhancing dishes with chilies. It was quite good.

IMG_2617Our least favorite dish was the warm caramelized Asian pears & red kale salad with hazelnuts, Brie cubes and a smattering of Brussel leaves. A few Saint Andre coffee beans were shredded, yet the dressing lacked pizazz.

Feeling pretty satisfied, we ordered just one more dish, the cast iron roasted Arctic Char served with caramelized​ cauliflower, golden raisins, pinenuts, preserved lime, salmon roe, mint pistou. The mint was fresh and clean tasting and I enjoyed it with the moist fish with a crispy skin.

Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. There is complimentary valet parking onsite. In addition, three public parking lots are located within a short walking distance; at the Amtrak train station on State Street at Yanonali, on Helena Avenue between Montecito and Yanonali streets and on Garden Street at Cabrillo Boulevard.

A great time to experience The Lark is on Thursday, April 16 during the Food & Wine Weekend Kickoff Dinner benefiting the Julia IMG_2619Child Foundation. Enjoy a special four-course, family-style dinner featuring local Santa Barbara produce from Ellwood Canyon Farms paired with Figueroa Mountain Brewery beer. The meal will feature guest speakers from both Ellwood Canyon Farms and Figueroa Mountain Brewery. The farmers will provide insights on farming in Santa Barbara and the importance of sourcing locally. The brewers will present Figueroa’s unique beer pairings with each course. 20% of all ticket sales will be donated to The Julia Child Foundation. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. and is $85 per person, + tax + gratuity RSVP via email: MKremzar@TheLarkSB.com

Food: *** Service: *** Cost: $$

131 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA  13010


5 Passover Dinner Seders in LA


Matzah Brei

Passover 2015 begins in the evening of Friday, April 3 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 11. There are a multitude of restaurants in Los Angeles that are celebrating Passover dinner and seder service. Here are some great places to enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.

1. Petrossian Executive chef Giselle Wellman is preparing special dishes for Passover including savory Matzah Brei served with traditional milk-soaked matzo sautéed with mushrooms and onions, and finished with 20 grams of caviar. It’s served in a colored egg. It is available from Friday, April 3 through Saturday, April 11, and will also be available on the weekend brunch menu through the end of April. 321 N. Robertson Blvd. (310)271-6300. Click here for OpenTable.

2. Jar

Jar is holding Passover seders on Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4, with seating at 5:30 p.m. They also will have one on  GuestsSuzanne Tracht And Preech Narkthong will enjoy an appetizer of house-cured salmon and chopped liver, followed by a first course of matzo ball soup in lemongrass broth, asparagus and spring radish salad and hard cooked eggs. The main course will include Jar’s signature pot roast with carrots, caramelized onions and fingerling potatoes; sautéed Alaskan halibut; and fava bean, scallion butter and horseradish mashed potatoes. Assorted macaroons and chocolate eminence lemon cheesecake will be served for dessert. The seder, led by Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser, is $130 for adults and $65 for children ages 12 and under. The price includes tax and gratuity, house wine, coffee or tea. 8225 Beverly Blvd. (323)655-6566. Click here for OpenTable.

3. Mud Hen Tavern

imagesGWRI2EBXMud Hen Tavern is offering a special Passover dinner menu beginning on Saturday, April 4 at 5 p.m. for $45 per person. Diners can start with the house-cured gravlax plate with fava beans, horseradish sauce, marinated beets and caraway matzo, or a vegetarian version made with shaved marinated cucumber. Guests can also enjoy deviled eggs and parsley leaf and apple salad with pickled mustard seed and honey vinaigrette. The slow cooked Moroccan spiced lamb shoulder is served with carrot salad in harissa and lemon, and a vegetarian option is available with roasted cauliflower steaks in Moroccan spices. Black Forest matzo brownies will be served for dessert. Pre-order seder plates are available for $15 and include matzo, charoset, eggs and salt water. Items from the full regular menu are available. 742 Highland Ave. (323)203-0500. Click here for OpenTable.

4. Spago

Spago Beverly Hills will host its 31st annual Passover seder dinner on Saturday, April 4 beginning at 5:30 pm. barbara-lazaroffRestaurant co-founder Barbara Lazaroff began the tradition at the original Spago Hollywood to bring members of the Jewish community together on the festive holiday, as well as guests of different faiths. The meal will be led by Rabbi Arnold Rachlis and Cantor Ruti Briar, from University Synagogue. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the nonprofit, Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. The cost is $190 for adults and $85 for children under 9 years old. 176 N. Canon Drive. (310)385-0880. Click here for OpenTable.

5. Fleming’s Beverly Hills

Starting April 3rd through April 11th at Fleming’s Beverly Hills, start with either the Fleming’s Matzah Ball Soup or Fleming’s Salad with candied walnuts, dried cranberries, tomatoes, onions. Next select an entree of either a sliced herb-roasted filet of salmon piccata. Sides include a choice of Thai green beans or truffled mashed potatoes. Finish with a rich chocolate cake with a molten center of Belgian chocolate, served with vanilla ice cream and roasted pistachios. All for $60 per person. 252 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, (310)278-8710. Open Table.

Montrose’s Newest Darling – town kitchen & grill

Town Burger

Town Burger

I was saddened to see the Italian Cucina Rustica next to the Japanese restaurant Sake on Honolulu Ave. close its doors permanently. It was just another restaurant in the charming and bucolic town to vacate.

Surprisingly, Town Kitchen & Grill took over the space in January 2015 and had their grand opening 19 days later. Owners Jim and Angela Collins are locals in the community. They have various family members helping out in the contemporary design restaurant.Cody, their niece, is one of their best servers. She is friendly and enthusiastic about the menu and restaurant.

For me, the food needs to be good to come back again. Also, the service needs to be friendly and attentive. It helps if the atmosphere is inviting. Town Kitchen & Bar wins the trifecta for all these requirements.


Jim and Angela put an ad on Craig’s List in need of a terrific chef. When Corey Kelso walked in, they liked him immediately. Jim being a big foodie liked that Kelso was the chef at Mastro’s restaurant in Beverly Hills for almost three years.

He is an expert at grilling protein and writing up whimsical menu dishes such as Spectacular Salmon, Irresistably-

Chef Kelso grills fish expertly

Chef Kelso grills fish expertly

Tender Lamb Chops, Kicked Up Caesar, Not-Your-Mama’s Brussels Sprouts and Just Give Me The Cheese pizza.

We made reservations at 7:45 p.m. and weren’t too hungry, so we split two dishes – The special fish of the day, a halibut on a bed of smashed potatoes and the Town burger. Both were excellent.

The halibut was cooked perfectly and healthier than the certified Black Angus burger with a garlic aioli, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. It was served with a side of their house made crisp chips dusted with a secret spice. Next to the chips is a container of blue cheese for dipping the chips. The creamy blue cheese mellows the heat on the chips. It’s a vegetarian version of buffalo wings dipped into blue cheese. I’m not a big chip eater, however, I actually liked the thick and crisp chips a lot.

For starters the Not-Your-Mama’s Brussels Spouts and flash fried golden brown and tossed with a warm bacon vinaigrette and dusted with Asiago cheese. A table near us ordered the dish and I made a note to try it on my next visit.

The menu offers four salads with dressings made in house. They make their own pizza dough for their four different types from Margherita to rustic sausage. Ask your server to have it prepared “Ramani Style” with Jalapeño peppers and bacon for an additional spicy and savory pie.

On their pasta section they offer an almond and chicken risotto with sun dried cherry tomatoes and a Good Ol’ Fashion Lasagna baked in their 600 degree pizza oven. Since chef Corey became a grill master while working at Mastro’s, he grills the Town rib eye, lamb chops, organic chicken breast and burger expertly.

Desserts worth every calorie

Desserts worth every calorie

Save room for dessert. Cody our server recommended the salted caramel gelato cake. It was a thin layer of chocolate cake and the lightly salted flavored caramel on top. They also have a lemon tart, creme brûlée and a brownie made with double chocolate, vanilla bean ice cream, berries, caramel and chocolate ribbons.

Town has a nice cocktail menu with drinks under $14 and a red and wine menu with glasses starting at $7. Corkage is $20, however if you purchase a cocktail or wine it is free.

Friendly Owners and Staff

The Collins moved to Glendale in the late 60s and have never left the community. They came into Cucina Rustica often for dinner and one night learned that the owners wanted to retire and sell the restaurant. It seemed like the ideal opportunity to mix their love of cooking with their passion for staying in the community. Jim and Angela enjoy strolling through the restaurant and chatting with guests. One of Cody’s aunt’s makes handmade caramels that are presented to guests at the end of the evening.


Cody proudly told us her uncle and aunt changed the interior by removing the plaster wall, revealing beautiful brick. They took out the booths and made a much larger and longer bar. Every stool was occupied while we dined. Guests enjoy the friendly bartenders who are happy to make your favorite drink with their large selection of spirits. It’s a fun spot to sip and eat.

The tables are mostly for two to four guests, however they can easily be pushed together to accommodate larger parties. I recommend making reservations, because the Friday night we dined at Town, it was packed with happy diners.

Food: ***

Beverages: ***

Prices: $8 to $24

Atmosphere: ***

2276 Honolulu Ave. Montrose, California 91020

Phone (818) 248-1881 Website: http://www.townkitchenandgrill.com

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